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Re: Ascertaining issue usage (Was: RE: Quit Checking In Journal Issues?) Dan Lester 17 Aug 2002 22:46 UTC

Friday, August 16, 2002, 3:51:18 PM, you wrote:

DG> However, regardless of the nature of the institution, I personally feel
DG> that any system encouraging or guiding  users to
DG> limit themselves to titles available in full-text aggregator databases is
DG> doing them a major disservice, as there is no subject field where the most
DG> important journals are found in full text on these databases.
DG> This is as true for Freshman as anyone else--if they are to use a limited
DG> number of sources for a short paper they should use the best sources.

David, I think you may have misread what I said in the message to
which you're responding.  Let me try to clarify things.

DG> Dan, I rarely disagree with you, at least not to this extent, but I fear
DG> you may be  falling into the trap
DG> of believing that all journal articles are equally good.

I don't think I've said or suggested that at all.  I know that there
is a wide variation in quality; after all, I've been in this business
for over thirty years.  And, all of us have journals of all quality
levels and types in our libraries, for a multitude of reasons.

DG> Yes, they should
DG> all be available if this can be practically arranged, and we certainly
DG> should not inhibit any user from access to whatever material they wish,
DG> important or not. But reliance upon the material available from
DG> aggregators is deliberately guiding them to the least useful.

Now let me go back to quote from the message earlier in this thread,
which I sent on Thursday afternoon, August 15th.

"We can also get some idea of usage of ejournals by observing patrons
and the usage of paper on our computer printers in the public area."

Note that I'm just saying we observe their behavior, both in noting
what they ask at the reference desk and what they're doing when they
ask for help at a computer as we roam the floor.

There certainly are times when we direct students to MasterFile
Premier or Expanded Academic databases.  I believe, as do my
colleagues, that it would be foolish to direct a new freshman writing
his/her first paper in English 101 (say three pages on "abortion") to
BioAbs or PsychLit.  When we query most of these students in an
attempt to try to get them to focus their papers (e.g. "Well, do you want to
look at abortion laws, abortion procedures, psychological impact of
abortion, religious aspects, or something else?") and they reply "Oh,
just abortion") we direct them to one of the general databases which
will give them a ton of information in full text, admittedly from
sources of varying quality.

If you think that at these times we should direct them elsewhere, then
we'll just have to disagree.

>>From the same message I also said

"When a patron has an option between finding an
article electronically and printing it vs. going to find a paper copy
and then photocopying it, it's a genuine nobrainer.  In fact, many of
the databases provide an option to limit a search to items with full
text.  That is an extremely popular feature with students."

Once again, I'm simply describing what happens, whether we have an
interaction with the student or not.  Remember, many of these students
have used these same tools in high school or public libraries before
they ever get to the university.  I'll bet the same happens with
freshmen who arrive at Princeton this fall. I'll also bet that many
Princeton professors (or TAs?) teaching basic courses that cover
things of the English 101 nature also recommend specific broad
databases in the classroom, just as they do at Boise State and most
other places.

"For the students writing a typical 3-10 page lower division paper requiring
relatively few resources that isn't even a limitation on their

Again, we may just have to disagree.  However, even though I used the
word "research", since that is how such a paper is usually prescribed
in the classroom, we all know it isn't true research in the same way
that graduate students and faculty are doing it.  They're doing
something closer to a "review of the literature" that isn't designed
even to be what would be needed for an MA/MS Thesis.

DG> Declaration of conflict of interest: I am on the advisory board of one of
DG> the major aggregators. I think the material supplied by both it and its
DG> competitors have a veryuseful and  important role--as a supplement.

No problem.  I'd never consider ANY index or bibliography to be the
be-all and end-all, even BioAbs in the field of biology.  As students
develop skills to, in some cases, turn into genuine researchers,
they'll be introduced by teaching faculty and library faculty to
progressively more complex, deep, comprehensive, and important tools.



Dan Lester, Data Wrangler 208-283-7711
3577 East Pecan, Boise, Idaho  83716-7115 USA  Stop Global Whining!